Xerox Phaser 3250/DN Monochrome Laser Printer
At a Glance
The Xerox Phaser 3250/DN monochrome laser printer could fit well into a small office or home office. It is inexpensive ($349 as of May 25, 2009), requires little effort to set up and maintain, and has enough helpful features to offset its handful of drawbacks.
The Phaser 3250/DN posted midrange scores in our speed tests. Xerox promises a print speed of up to 30 pages per minute--and on plain-text pages it got close, hitting 27.7 ppm (though just 7 ppm on graphics pages. As commonly happens with monochrome lasers, it delivered superb text quality and mediocre graphics quality, with a limited range of grays and some horizontal banding through the darker parts of the images.
Boxy and squat, the Phaser 3250/DN has a basic design. The control panel consists of one button and a couple of LEDs. Though the absence of word labels makes these items inscrutable (especially as regards blinking lights), the printer's Web-based status monitor more than compensates by offering a wealth of information onscreen. The included automatic duplexer is an especially nice feature on such a low-cost printer. The PDF-based documentation is excellent, too, and includes animated troubleshooting support.
Unfortunately, the Phaser 3250/DN is saddled with one of the worst paper-tray designs we've seen. Despite having some metal reinforcement, the 250-sheet main tray still has a lot of flex. You can extend it to fit legal-size paper, but to do so you have to locate discreet tabs in the bottom of the tray. The horizontal guides are even worse: They move in easily, but we had to exert an unusually large amount of force to move them outward, even with the release lever depressed. If you regularly print on media in an array of sizes, you'll be far better off using the single-sheet feeder. The Ricoh Aficio SP 3300DN shares the same clumsy design. A second tray, if you can stand it, costs $125.
The Phaser 3250/DN's consumables costs are a bit above average, but not unreasonably so. The machine ships with a 2000-page starter cartridge. Replacements come in two sizes: a 3500-page regular cartridge ($89, or 2.5 cents per page) and a 5000-page high-yield cartridge ($106, or 2.1 cents per page). Replacing the cartridge is easy: You pull open the printer's front panel, and the rectangular cartridge handle is obvious. There is only one way to slide in the replacement, and it locks into place with no resistance.
Despite its disagreeable paper tray, the Xerox Phaser 3250/DN offers impressive value for the price. Its speed and print quality are good enough for most home users, and the included automatic duplexer helps make the workplace greener. Busier offices with heavier printing demands may be happier with the Phaser 3250/DN's big brother, the Xerox Phaser 3600/N.